Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus is colonial cnidarian that is a model organism for allorecognition (recognition of self from genetically distinct members of the same species). Studies in inbred lines of Hydractinia have determined that allorecognition is controlled by a genomic region called the allorecognition complex (ARC) which contains at least two highly polymorphic allorecognition genes (Alr1 and Alr2). These genes encode transmembrane proteins that interact by isoform specific homophilic binding. One focus of my project is studying the structural and sequence characteristics of these proteins to improve the understanding of their binding specificities and the evolution of alleles that are able to maintain the same functional interactions (regulating allorecognition) despite variable sequence. A second aspect of my research is to understand more fully how the allorecognition response is regulated in wildtype colonies. Through the recent Hydractinia Genome Project, we have extensive sequence data from which we have putitvely identified additional Alr-like sequences that may have involvement in allorecognition. Part of my project is to characterize some of these additional sequences.
Education & Training
- B.S. in Biomedical Chemistry, Oral Roberts University, OK, 2015